As mental health professionals, we have worked extensively over the past two decades with active duty military personnel, members of the National Guard and Reserve, veterans, and their families at military treatment facilities, in Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals, on college campuses, and in private practice. We have found it tremendously rewarding to assist our troops and their families in these settings by providing individual, couples, or family therapy and by conducting research to better understand the experience and needs of those who served in war.
In addition, we have advocated for service members and their loved ones by consulting for a wide variety of not-for-profit organizations that support military families, ranging from groups devoted to improving education for children of service members to those that support parents like you. For example, we routinely consult for organizations that provide pro bono mental health services to military personnel and their families, including their spouses, children, parents, and siblings.
Moreover, because we feel strongly about sharing our expertise in this field with students and other mental health professionals, we frequently deliver courses, workshops, and presentations on deployment-related topics both domestically and internationally, and we participate in interviews on issues relating to veterans and their families. Yet with all this collective experience, we agree that one of our greatest satisfactions was the publication of our first book, Courage After Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families (Ulysses Press) in 2006, a self-help guide for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their loved ones. We are glad that over 100,000 copies of this book have reached the hands of service members, their families, clinicians, chaplains and others across the country and hopefully helped them improve their lives, relationships or work.
However, over time we came to recognize the lack of resources, assistance and attention given to a particular niche of the military community - the parents of service members - in spite of their significant contributions both during and after their child's deployment. Indeed, we were quite surprised to find that only a few parent testimonials and informal guides exist, and couldn't identify any books written by mental health professionals tailored just for them. Therefore, we decided to write our second book for the hundreds of thousands of parents whose sons and daughters have deployed, which is called Courage After Fire for Parents of Service Members: Strategies for Coping When Your Son or Daughter Returns from Deployment (New Harbinger) and is now available. We have written this new book in honor of these parents' sacrifice and service and to thank them. Our intent is to offer them guidance and support, validate their experiences, and provide information about how to help their returning service member with readjustment problems or emotional or physical wounds while taking care of themselves.
Because none of us has endured the experience of sending our children off to war and struggling to assist them after they returned home changed by their experience, for this new book, we asked mothers and fathers across the country to share their successes and struggles following their son or daughter's deployment. We have woven their heartfelt responses to our questionnaire into this book, in hopes that they will give these parents a sense of belonging, validation, and inspiration.
We hope that our new book is useful not only to parents, but also to anyone who plays an important role in the life of a member of our military who served in harm's way. Whether you are a stepparent, parent-in-law, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or mentor, the support and care that you provide for your service member is invaluable. We have written this book for you as well.
In addition to the suggestions and tips provided in both of our books, we offer consultative services, workshops, and presentations to organizations, groups and employers who are helping returning veterans, their parents and families reunite and transition after deployment. We give talks to the public and media in hopes of educating those who work with veterans about the challenges they face and reducing the stigma they and those close to them have about getting psychological help. As a team, we are dedicated to providing support to our newest generation of veterans, their mothers and fathers, and other loved ones through whatever means best fits the particular situation. If you are interested in any of our services, we can be contacted our email addresses (above).